Theo Fleury disappointed after James' pardon

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It took a lot of courage for Theo Fleury to come public with claims
that he had been abused by his former juniors coach Graham James, who
had previously been convicted in 1997 in Canada of assaulting Sheldon
Kennedy. Fleury had stated one reason he came forward was to raise
awareness that victims of sexual assault and abuse should not be afraid
of coming out against their attackers.

So you can understand his
anger when learning that James was given a pardon in 2007 for his crime.
A pardon does not erase a person’s criminal record, but it ensures the
convictions are kept out of a police database used by officers
throughout Canada.

Carolyne Burkholder of The Province

“There’s a
lot of ramifications that come from poorly made decisions
such as that,” Fleury said in an interview from Calgary. “It has an
amazing trickle-down effect.”

“We’re trying to encourage victims
to start on a process and with a
decision like this obviously puts a pretty big damper on people’s
processes,” he said.

He’s right in the fact that it’s
tough to encourage victims to speak out on such crimes when they feel
the justice system won’t do them any favors. I don’t want to get too
heavily into the subject matter at hand, but it’s thought that for every
sexual assault that is committed and reported, there are many more that
go unreported. The victims feel guilty, ashamed and are afraid of the
ramifications of going to the police.

How can Fleury and others
convince victims that reporting such crimes is needed, helpful and
worthwhile when the justice system fails them?

Panarin impresses ‘Hawks with his preseason debut

Artemi Panarin
AP Photo

Will Artem Panarin‘s overwhelming success in the KHL translate to North America? The 23-year-old forward has a lot to prove, but his first big test was a success.

Playing on a line with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov, Panarin made his preseason debut in Chicago’s finale on Saturday. He registered two assists while giving his teammates reason to be optimistic about him.

“For not being on the ice he looks really relaxed. He’s great with the puck, has nice moves and I think we’ll see a lot of this,” Marian Hossa told CSN Chicago. “He has unbelievable skill. People here in Chicago are going to have a good time watching this guy dangling.”

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was impressed by Panarin as well and liked that line as a whole.

The fact that the trio seemed to hit it off quickly has to come as a relief after an upper-body injury prevented Panarin from getting the most out of this year’s training camp. At the end of the day though, the fact that he was able to at least get in one preseason contest is a big silver lining. How smoothly his adjustment goes from here is still a big X-factor, but at least now he’s going into the regular season with a better idea of what to expect.

Panarin is attempting to establish himself in the NHL after leading the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg to a championship last year. He was the team’s scoring leader, topping ex-NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk.

Gustavsson secures one-year contract with Bruins

Jonas Gustavsson
AP Photo
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There was stiff competition for the backup goaltending job in Boston, but with a signing this afternoon, it seems likely that the matter has been resolved.

The Boston Bruins announced that Jonas Gustavsson has agreed to a one-year, $700,000 deal. It’s a one-way contract, according to the Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin.

That contract is still small enough that the Bruins could bury it in the minors if they so desire, but it does set him apart from his last competitor for the goalie position, Jeremy Smith, who has a two-way deal. The fact that Boston went this route seems to imply that Gustavsson will serve as Tuukka Rask‘s understudy, although both netminders attended Sunday’s practice.

In Smith, the Bruins would be getting a 26-year-old goaltender who was dominant with the AHL’s Providence Bruins last season, but has no NHL experience. By contrast Gustavsson, 30, has played in almost 150 NHL games.

Boston sent Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban to the minors last week, but an argument could be made that either one of them is worthy of the backup job. However, both of them have a lot of potential and it’s not surprising that the Bruins felt they were better served by staying in the minors where they can play regularly and focus on honing their game.